CC Indian offshoring to save £10m in £30m costs war

Clifford Chance is set to save £10m with its plan to transfer 300 jobs to Delhi next year.

As first revealed last week on www.thelawyer.com (2 October), the magic circle firm is about to launch a shared-service centre in Delhi, which will comprise part of the global finance and IT support function.

Accordingly, the accounting and IT functions in various centres around the globe will be downsized, including London. The firm is about to enter consultation with its staff.

Clifford Chance global director of business services Amanda Burton is leading the offshoring project, which is being run by outsourcing specialist Integreon.

Burton told The Lawyer: “We’re genuinely excited about this – it’s another way of differentiating ourselves because very few firms have the size to do this and to improve the quality of service.”

Integreon, which hired former Allen & Overy head of operations Steven Chernikeeff in February this year, has been running a small document production centre in India for Clifford Chance since January 2005. The Mumbai centre reports to Clifford Chance’s New York office, which along with London handles document production worldwide on a ‘follow the sun’ basis.

The service centre is due to open in Delhi early next year. It is understood that while Integreon will be handling the day-to-day management of the launch, Clifford Chance will be sending accounting and IT secondees from other offices for screening. Staff at the new service centre will be Clifford Chance employees.

Burton said that security at the new operation would be paramount. The documentproduction centre requires thumbprint access and bans any printing or the taking of papers and computer disks in or out. It also requires that every bag be searched. These precautions will also be applied at the Mumbai operation.

The scheme is part of a wider push on overheads led by managing partner David Childs, who has identified a total of £30m new costsavings over and above the £40m taken out of the cost base over the past two years.

In December 2004 Childs, who was then chief executive officer at the firm, announced his initial plans to axe £40m in costs, representing a total of £100,000 extra profit per equity partner over two years. That programme saw a centralisation of all internal business services, including HR, IT, property management and global procurement. That has included streamlining data centres into six locations: Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, New York and Paris.

While the business services professionals have enjoyed a higher status within Clifford Chance in recent years, there has been a considerable reduction in administrative staff. In May this year The Lawyer revealed that the firm had axed a total of 700 business support jobs over three years.

This reduction in headcount allowed the firm to let out two floors at its Canary Wharf headquarters, which is thought to save it another £2m a year.